Arknights

For the past week or so I’ve been playing a game called Arknights, and today I want to talk about it. To start off, it’ll probably be best to explain what Arknight is and how I encountered it.

To summarize, Arknights is produced by Yostar, a China based company that produces apps for IOS and Android. Prior to playing Arknights, I was actively playing Azur Lane, another app of Yostar. During my time play Azur Lane, I joined a Discord server that’s made of people who enjoy playing games like Arknights and Azur Lane. By joining this server, I learned of the Arknight global beta. The app seemed pretty interesting, so I kept an eye on Arknights. It also helped Arknights was produced by Yostar, a company I know that can source good art and voice actors. At this point the rest is history, I waited for the official release and I’m currently playing the game. With that summery out of the way, I can start actually start talking about why the game is so intriguing. 

Arknights, is a combination of two different types of games. The first of these two types is tower defence. In tower defence games, you typically need to defend an objective with towers. The enemy travel down a predetermined path and you can strategically place towers along the route. On the other hand, the second type of game is strategy games. In these games, you place down units and control them by giving certain orders, examples being movement or special abilities. In Arknights, the enemy still travel down a predetermined path. However, you can place down your units or operators almost anywhere on the map. What this means is that unlike other tower defence games, you actually block the waves of enemies. In my mind, this adds another level of strategy. 

Unfortunately, the enemy is this game are pretty typical. They have weakness and advantages, but they aren’t anything you wouldn’t see in other tower defence games. However, what really drives the amazing map system is the operators or units. In the game, there are eight classes Vanguard, Guard, Defence, Medic, Caster, Sniper, Support, and Special. Each have their advantages and disadvantages. However, I’ll like make another video going into each class at a later date.

What we need to know now is that each class has their own role and can be broadly split into two categories. Vanguard, Guard, and Defence operators can only be placed on the ground. Meanwhile, Medic, Caster, Sniper, and Support units can only be placed on high ground unless stated otherwise. The only exception to this rule is Special, because certain operators in this class and bypass the restriction. The game does indeed let you place operators almost anywhere on the map, they just restrict certain operators to certain terrain. 

Overall, Arknights is a complex game that involves a lot of strategy. In the future, I hope to talk about all the class in depth and explore their uses. 

What is Gender Bending?

It’s been a while since I did one of these, so I thought it was about time I continue this series. This week, I’m going to be talking about gender-bending in manga and anime. A term some may be familiar with but other not so much. 

In its purest form, gender bending is exactly what it says. In most cases, there is a character that gets his or her gender switched. However, people masquerading or controlling an avatar of the opposite gender can also fall under gender-bending. A very simple term compared to previous ones. The reason I didn’t cover this term earlier is because gender-bending isn’t unique. It’s something that’s has been thoroughly explored, but I feel the Japanese play around with this concept more often than others, hence why I’m talking about it here.  

So, what does gender bending add to a story? So far from what I have seen, there are two flavours of this. The first is that the gender-bend is integral to the plot, meaning the protagonist gets gender swapped more often than not. The second is that the gender-bend is not integral to the plot, meaning a one off or supporting character gets gender swapped. In this blog, I’ll be ignoring the second category. Most of the time, the gender swap is just an aspect of the character and adds to their complexity. Other than that, their gender swap doesn’t really effect the overall story besides when the plot focuses on it. At that point, it’s more like the supporting character temporally assumes the role of the protagonist, because it’s their story arc. My point is, that if an author decides to put gender-bending into their story, it either holds a really significant role or none at all. Gender-bending isn’t something you can just touch upon, instead it’s something the author builds upon. Regardless, in either case the author will end up focusing on the gender bending at some point. 

Now, the question becomes if gender-bending is so important to the plot, what’s the plot? In my experience with gender bending, each story adds their own twist. Almost none of the manga I’ve read has what I could consider identical plots with a fresh coat of paint. However, this won’t mean I can’t list some more general trends of how gender-bending is used. 

The first trend, is usually getting their original body back. In stories like these, for whatever reason, the protagonist looses their original gender to due to an incident and must find a way to get it back. The inciting incident can be super natural in nature or completely sci-fi. That is reason this trend is so broad, if I narrowed the conditions down any further it could hardly be considered a trend. A good example of this trend is Ranma 1/2.

The second one, is what I call adapting. For these stories, the protagonist can no longer get their body back. Instead, they must now adapt to their new body and live out the rest of their life. Due to the slightly boring nature of this type of gender bending, it is most often seen in romance scenarios. For example, one of my favourite manga uses this kind of scenario. It involves two childhood friends. They are both male and one of them has a fear of girls. During their second year in high school, one of the males get turned into a female due to an irreversible disease. I personally just found the plot really intriguing, it lead to so much character development between the two friends and their eventual romance. 

Forth, is a rather short one I call VRMMO. Personally, I consider this more of an extension of the first. Basically, in this plot there is usually a VRMMO involved. In this MMO, the protagonist controls a character of the opposite gender, more often than not for comedic purposes. Notable examples of this are Prince 1/2 and Only Sense Online.

Finally, the last trend is hiding gender. Like trend number two, this one usually involves heavy amounts romance. In stories like these, the male or female lead needs to crossdress for whatever reason. Examples of some of the more popular reasons are to join a gender specific club or to join a certain group. For this reason, the hiding gender trend is usually associated with the sports and drama genres. Regardless of the reason for their joining, the crossdressing lead eventually falls in love for one of the other club members or their coworker, depending on the situation. In the end, the crossdressing lead ends up playing a dangerous game of hiding and pursuing their love, which is fun to read most of the time. Compared to other forms of gender-bending, this trend is much more grounded in reality.

Overall, I hope the explanation I gave was satisfactory to those who didn’t know much about the topic. Although gender-bending is fairly well known topic, I feel there are plenty of ways to explore it. Personally, I find it a shame that there aren’t more good gender-bending stories out there. Next time, I’ll probably cover the terms I mentioned weeks ago, Yaoi and Yuri. 

Semester Two Grade 11

Exams have just finished and second semester is just around the corner. In this blog, I’m going continue a tradition that’s been happening since grade 9, summarizing all my courses and what I think of them. 

The first course I have is media arts. Out of all the courses I’ve had previously, I think media arts is one of the more enjoyable subjects. From my previous experience with media arts, the course taught us how to use photoshop, cameras, and the history of art trends, examples being cubism and dada. Speaking personally, the camera projects didn’t really interest me and I primarily chose this course for the other two areas. Working with photoshop was really fun and I can see it being a useful skill in the future. As for the history of art trends, I find enjoyment learning about the past. Overall, I’m interested to see what I learn from the course this year. 

After media arts is english. Unlike my electives, I didn’t have a choice as english is mandatory. However, I have enjoyed previous english classes, and don’t find it as intimating compared to subjects like math or science. My biggest problem with the course is likely going to be the reading material. Most of the time, there will be at least one book I don’t really enjoy that is a mandatory read. Basically, the enjoyment I get out of this course is directly correlated to how interested I’m into the material. From what I hear, the Shakespeare book we’re going to be reading is Othello. Unfortunately, unlike Romeo and Juliet or Macbeth, I haven’t really heard of Othello. Due to this, I not really going into the subject with the same enthusiasm I’ve had in previous years. However, I can’t wait to see what we do this year. 

Next, I have is technological design. Unlike the previous two subjects, I can’t really talk about my past experience with the subject. However, I have heard a lot of good things about the course. From what I can tell, instead of building stuff like in construction, we’ll be looking at how technology can be applied. For example, instead of building a wall like in construction, perhaps we’ll be looking at how the techniques we used could be applied on a grander scale. I also have the feeling, we’ll be doing a lot of technical drawings. Besides that, I not quite sure what else we’ll be doing, for now I can only speculate.

Finally, the last course I have is chemistry. In all honesty, I’m not looking forward to this subject. I was never the best at the sciences and I’ve heard the chemistry teachers aren’t the best either. We’ll likely, be looking at more chemical reactions and stuff of the like. After asking my friends, they have also said chemistry is really hard. All in all, chemistry will likely my biggest problem this semester. 

Overall, I have a pretty good feeling about this semester. I’m interested in almost all the courses I got, besides chemistry. However, I’m just happy I even got the courses I wanted this time around. Last year, when I was in grade 10, I got stuck with a few courses that I didn’t really want. I just hope I get good grades for the second half of my grade 11 year.